Gov. Greg Abbott had previously announced his intention of building a wall on the southern border, a move many have labeled as directly copied from Trump’s playbook.
The announcement, which was initially shared without any details or construction plans, was only accompanied by Abbott stating it would be funded through private donations. However, on a press conference that took place last Wednesday, the Governor announced an initial down payment of $250 million will come from the state budget.
As reported by the Texas Tribune, lawmakers will allocate money from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice into a disaster account, which will then be moved to the Texas Facilities Commission for the border wall construction.
The announcement also came with a signed document by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and the Legislature’s top budget writers Sen. Jane Nelson, R- Flower Mound, and Rep. Greg Bonnen, R- Friendswood, allowing the transfer of the money.
Abbott mentioned that the construction decisions would be determined by a program manager who would oversee the details, adding that he also expects Texans to donate both money and land for his wall.
”My belief based upon conversations that I’ve already had is that the combination of state land as well as volunteer land will yield hundreds of miles to build a border wall in Texas,” he said.
Abbott’s announcement to fund the wall with state money instead of addressing urgent issues such as disaster risk mitigation or allocating resources to weatherize the power grid, has sparked outrage from citizens to lawmakers.
“Building a wall form El Paso to Brownsville is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security and it’s a huge waste of taxpayer money,” said Democrat Sen. Cesar Blanco, who added he had “zero indication” when debating the budget during the legislative session that the money would be used for a border wall.
Part of the outrage comes from the fact that the state does not have authority over immigration regulation, which is a sole faculty of the federal government, as mandated by the Constitution.
“Abbott wants to manipulate laws and charge people coming across and separate them from their children. It’s all a manipulation of existing politics to try to advance his political power,” said Dani Marrero Hi, director of communications for the nonprofit civil rights group La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE.)
Land Commissioner George P. Bush also chipped in for Abbott’s wish-list, announcing he would grant emergency authorization for the building of the wall on state lands.
“What a waste of taxpayer dollars. What a waste of his focus and energy in pouring resources into this ridiculous idea.” said Melissa Cigarroa, president of the board of directors for the Rio Grande International Study Center
Immediate “barriers” are going up “as we speak.” Abbott said.